This year's hard winter means it isn't easy being...

ON THE HOME FRONT

February 27, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff Writer

This year's hard winter means it isn't easy being green

There's not much any of us can do about it, but you can bet the unusually harsh weather this winter will have an adverse effect on our yards and gardens. The most obvious damage is the tree limbs and shrubbery that have broken under the weight of ice; other problems may not become noticeable until spring.

According to Ray Bosmans, a specialist with the state Cooperative Extension Service, landscape plants such as crepe myrtle, camellias, tender varieties of roses and Chinese holly will be the hardest-hit by the cold and ice. In mid-April, scrape any stems that look dead. If you don't find green, prune them out.

The bad weather probably isn't over yet. (Remember last March's snowstorm.) Heavy use of rock salt on steps can damage grass and shrubs. Calcium chloride is less harmful, and fertilizer can be used sparingly to melt ice. Best of all -- for the LTC yard -- is sand or kitty litter, although kitty litter is messy.

Is there any good news? Says Dr. Bosmans: "Maybe the cold weather will knock back some insect pests. But don't count on it."

Call it Indo-chic. It started with fashion, as so many trends do; and now furniture, fabric, accessories, designs and motifs from Southeast Asia are turning up everywhere in home design. The silks, glowing colors, dark, elaborately carved woods, beaten metals -- all of these whisper of exotic places while they add warmth and comfort to more traditional surroundings.

The current interest in ethnic designs and handicrafts is one reason for Indo-chic's popularity. Donna Warner, editor of Metropolitan Home, suggests another: "We baby boomers feel comfortable with the look because it reminds us of the '60s -- remember the hare krishna stuff?"

One of the nice things about Indo-chic is that you can get furniture and accessories in all price ranges. Pier 1 has hand-crafted, painted wooden animals from Indonesia and hand-carved table bases from Thailand. (No two are the same.) Those who want to invest more seriously in the look can shop at Findings Collections by Rita St. Clair. Here you'll find antique furniture, carvings and accessories from places such as Java, Thailand and Burma, with the exotic richness of materials such as teak, silver and brass.

And check out the March Architectural Digest: The cover story is on a dream home in Indonesia.

It's a jungle out there. Squirrels, cats, raccoons and hawks are all waiting to get your finches, chickadees, wrens and robins -- or at the very least, their food.

You can protect them and your birdseed (and have great fun in the process) by building a feeder with the help of The Bird Feeder Book & Kit (Sterling/Lark, $40). It includes materials to make the basic structure and step-by-step directions.

You'll get seven pieces of pine, pre-drilled and sanded, four strips of molding, four dowels and nails, plus instructions on painting your feeder in any of eight different designs, from the Grecian Pool to the Circus Tent.

You can put your first bird feeder together in an evening, then move on to more complicated designs out of The Bird Feeder Book. The book has plans and directions for building 40 structures, more than two dozen feeders plus some houses and baths.

Each project is illustrated by color photographs and line drawings.

Now why didn't anyone think of this before? The Equator Clothes-Processor (sounds appropriately futuristic, doesn't it?) washes clothes and then dries them in the same appliance.

For those of us who forget to transfer clothes to the dryer and find them two days later in a cold, soggy heap at the bottom of the washer just when we want to pull on that pair of jeans, it sounds like a godsend.

The first model is called the EZ 1000. Measuring 33 by 23 1/2 by 20 1/2 inches, its size makes it particularly suited for small homes and apartments. The combination washer-dryer is front-loading and completely automatic from wash through dry. You choose the wash cycle, then the drying time and setting. It does everything but fold the clothes for you.

The EZ 1000 doesn't come cheap: the recommended retail price is $795. If you want to take a look at one and have trouble finding it in local stores, call the Equator Corporation at (800) 935-1565.

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